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New Releases: Yamazaki and Hakushu, Kamiki, & Hatozaki Japanese Whisky

New Japanese whisky expressions include The Kogei Collection from Suntory, a rye whisky from Hatozaki, and a Japanese cedar cask finish from Kamiki. 

Let’s take a look at the new releases in the world of Japanese whisky this week. 

Suntory The Kogei Collection 

Credit: Beam Suntory

The House of Suntory has unveiled a new global travel retail exclusive: The Kogei Collection. 

The collection is comprised of two Japanese single malt whiskies from the fabled Yamazaki Distillery and the Hakushu Distillery

These expressions were created with the Japanese concept of “Tsukuriwake” in mind. Translated, “Tsukuriwake” means ‘artisanship through a diversity of making’. This principle allowed Maser Blender, Shinji Fukuyo to break the traditional boundaries of distillation and maturation. 

“Tsukuriwake” can be seen in the Yamazaki Peated Malt Spanish Oak. The peated barley was sourced from distilleries on Islay, and the resulting liquid was matured in Spanish Oak casks before being bottled at 43% ABV. 

The Hakushu Peated Malt Spanish Oak was made in a similar manner, with the resulting whisky having “a drier smoke and undertones of fruity sweetness”. 

The Kogei Collection is named for the “traditional Japanese craftsmanship” of the same name. Kimono house, Chiso, was commissioned to create the packaging for the releases, emulating the traditional patterns of Japanese kimonos. 

Beginning in April 2024, The Kogei Collection will be rolled out across numerous travel retail markets including London Heathrow, Los Angeles International, Amsterdam Schipol, and Beijing Capital International. The bottles carry an RRP of $205 each. 

Beam Suntory Brand Marketing Director Global Travel Retail Manuel Gonzalez commented: “The Japanese Kimono Editions of our 2024 Kogei Collection are a true embodiment of craft through inspired innovation. I’m sure these exceptional expressions will capture the imagination of whisky lovers and collectors, and drive engagement and trade-up for us and our retail partners.”

Kamiki Single Malt  Japanese Whisky 

This Japanese whisky was finished in Japanese cedar casks, a first for the category. Credit: Kamiki Drinks

Kamiki Drinks has unveiled Kamiki Single Malt Japanese Whisky, the “World’s First Yoshino Sugi Japanese Cedar Cask Finish Single Malt Whisky”. 

This is the first Japanese single malt expression from the brand, which has previously launched three blended whiskies: Sakura, Intense, and Kamiki Whisky.  

Aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels, the whisky was then finished in Japanese cedar casks in a process known as “Yoshino Sugi”. 

The resulting whisky features “nuanced aromas of green tea and sandalwood, further enriched by bold notes of cedar, cinnamon, and pine”. On the palate, “an enhanced floral bouquet, leading to a crisp, forest-inspired finale”. 

For now, the new Kamiki Single Malt is available in Japan and selected international markets. 

Hatozaki Omakase Rye Third Edition Mizunara Cask Finish Japanese Whisky

The Japanese rye whisky from Hatozaki. Credit: Hatozaki Whisky

In the latest addition to its “Omakase” series, Hatozaki Whisky has unveiled a US- US-exclusive, Mizunara cask-finished rye Japanese whisky.

The rye whisky was produced at the Kaikyō Distillery under the watchful eye of 4th generation Master Distiller & Blender, Kimio Yonezawa. 

According to the US-laws surrounding rye whiskey, the Hatozaki Omakase Rye was produced from a mash bill of at least 51% rye. It was then aged in new, charred oak (much like American rye) before being finished in Mizunara oak casks. 

Mizunara is a type of Japanese oak. Whilst it is notoriously difficult to work with, the results are distinct, with notes of “sandalwood, coconut, and Japanese incense”. 

Only 3,000 bottles were produced from just 10 casks. 

The Japanese word “Omakase” means “chef’s choice”, allowing Yonezawa to follow his instincts and assume creative control of the rye whisky. In a statement, Yonezawa said: “I am honored to introduce the newest blend in our Omakase Collection to the US market. I was excited to experiment with the flavors of rye, a popular category with American whisky drinkers, and see how they would respond to native Japanese oak influence. We are thrilled with the final blend and confident it will be a surprising and rewarding choice for the seeker of exciting new whiskies to try.”

The US-exclusive bottling is available at retail for an RRP of $95.

Beth Squires

Beth joined Mark Littler Ltd full-time in October 2020 following the completion of her university degree. Since then she has gained wide-ranging knowledge of all things whisk(e)y, and has written extensively for both company and external publications. Beth is passionate about industry innovation, marketing, and sustainability. With a particular affinity for independently bottled rare scotch, Beth is also a whisky bottle investment specialist.

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